by Winthrop Rodgers
In 1975 Dr. Steve Rogers arrived in Falls Church to begin working as a veterinarian at the Falls Church Animal Hospital. Now, after 41 years of dedicated service to the community, he retired from his practice on Wednesday, Sept. 28.
During his career, he has tended to the needs of thousands of animals and built close and enduring relationships with city residents and their pets. “He is a great vet, a tremendous community servant, and a wonderful human being,” said Liz Giovaniello, who is both a client and a near neighbor. “He’s always been there for humans and animals alike.”
Dr. Rogers grew up in Smithfield, Virginia where he was exposed to veterinary medicine from an early age. “I guess I was just bred into it,” he said. “My father was a large animal vet and so were two uncles and a great uncle.”
He attended Virginia Tech for his undergraduate degree before being accepted into a prestigious and selective program at the University of Georgia, where he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
After school, he worked for a few years in Richmond and Southeast Washington, D.C. before joining the Falls Church Animal Hospital, which at that time was a small two-doctor operation.
Reflecting on how the practice has changed since then, he said that “back then we were a catchall operation” doing everything from general medicine to procedures that are now taken care of by specialists. “It was challenging, but extremely rewarding.”
“I get paid for what I would do for free and it will be tough to say goodbye,” he said. “It has gone by so fast. What I will miss the most is making the animals better and the joy of the client when returning their pet to health.”
In talking with several clients, it is clear that Dr. Rogers will be sincerely missed. “For my family, it’s been multi-generational,” said Denise Kfoury. “We’ve been taking our pets to him for 40 of the past 41 years. His skill is tremendous. He has such a high level of dedication.”
Alexandra Roth has been bringing her cats to Dr. Rogers for over a decade. “He’s extremely empathetic,” she said. “Not all vets are good with people, but he certainly is. He’s a mensch!” Indeed, both Roth and Giovaniello related how kind and conscientious he is through both good times and bad.
“He is always looking for the best thing to do for the animal and is so good at explaining things to us animal lovers in tough situations,” said Giovaniello. The staff at the Falls Church Animal Hospital expressed the same sentiments. “Everyone is thrilled for him. He’s earned it. He deserves it,” said Naomi Wheeler, who has worked there for ten years and is a receptionist.
“It’s a bittersweet time. We’re getting lots of calls from people wishing him well. A lot of people all of a sudden need an appointment. They’re all coming in for one last visit. He’s a real cornerstone of the community.”
Asked what his motivations were for retiring now, he said, “while I still love what I do, I’d like to go out on top; 41 years is enough. I want to travel and I also have grandkids in the city, so I’m looking forward to spending time with them.” Without a doubt, he will also spend a lot of time with his two Burmese cats, Mocha and Bean, while he plans his next adventures.
“We’re happy for him about his retirement. He certainly has earned it,” said Kfoury. “But we’re also sad because no one could take his place.”